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Super Tiny Computer Puts Android on Your TV, Laptop

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 56 comments

For casual computer usage, or just a game of Angry Birds, all you need is a computer the size of a USB thumb drive.

Early this year we got to see, through ARM-powered devices such as the Motorola Atrix, that it doesn't take even a netbook to run basic computing functions. At a live demonstration in New York City, FXI Technologies showed off the next evolution of that idea: an ARM-based computer on a USB stick without any of that extra smartphone or tablet baggage.

FXI calls its prototype device "Cotton Candy," which can turn any HDMI-enabled display into a smart TV that's able to browse the web thanks to built-in Wi-Fi and run apps such as YouTube and Netflix. The device can even store data, including videos, locally through an expandable microSD slot up to 64GB. Input comes from Bluetooth devices. The prototype model that was on display through a 42-inch HDTV was running Android 2.3, but it will be able to run an ARM version of Ubuntu.

"Today’s device functionality is often limited by the size of the screen it inhabits," said Borgar Ljosland, founder and CEO of FXI Technologies.  "We’ve turned things upside down, eliminating the screen and delivering the power of a PC and the web to any screen."

At the other end of the stick-shaped device is a USB port that will plug into any Windows or Mac computer to use its keyboard and other input devices. FXI demonstrated this using a MacBook, which was then able to display the Android version of Angry Birds Rio. It worked the same on a Windows-based ThinkPad as well.

"The laptop use case shows how with FXI’s patent protected Any Screen Virtualization Protocol, Cotton Candy can take over a host device’s screen to display Internet connected content," said Ljosland. "We believe these usage scenarios will be easily adopted by consumers and FXI’s USB connected computing devices will make an ideal companion for the multitude of digital devices and screens people touch daily."

The technical specifications of the Cotton Candy prototype are right up there with today's smartphones.

o   Dual Cortex A9, 1.2 GHz with NEON extensions

o   Mali-400MP Quad-Core, 266MHz OpenGL ES v2.0

o   1080p video multi-format decode (MPEG-4, H.264, H.263 )
802.11 b/g/n Wifi

o   Bluetooth v2.1

o   USB 2.0

o   HDMI 1.4

Of course, this is just a prototype; the final version won't be ready until about a year from now. Cotton Candy isn't even going to be the official name, but with a targeted $200, it could still be pretty sweet.

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Top Comments
  • 28 Hide
    tbq , November 21, 2011 4:08 AM
    If you can use it to read email, use a word processing program, update Facebook, and play Angry Birds it's good enough for 90% of home computer users. No it cannot play Crysis 1 or 2.
  • 15 Hide
    Novulux , November 21, 2011 4:52 AM
    ryumiakyohow will it get internet?


    Read : 802.11 b/g/n Wifi
    ?
  • 13 Hide
    archange , November 21, 2011 5:12 AM
    Quite nice. Something else occurs to me as well:

    Can this lead to upgradeable smartphones???

    Upgradeable and interchangeable smartphone modules FTW! Added bonus: pull it out and stick it into any TV or display.
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    Parsian , November 21, 2011 4:07 AM
    amazing.
  • 28 Hide
    tbq , November 21, 2011 4:08 AM
    If you can use it to read email, use a word processing program, update Facebook, and play Angry Birds it's good enough for 90% of home computer users. No it cannot play Crysis 1 or 2.
  • 7 Hide
    illfindu , November 21, 2011 4:19 AM
    I love my android tablet the idea that i could carry one around in some thing the size as a usb and attach it to any thing that has a HDMI is a big plus for me. Many people wont agree but in my opinion this is a SUPER media PC get netflex , facebook and a web browsing app and you basically have every thing most people build a media pc for any way. This is in most cases gonna be cheaper , take up less space and probably use less power. I think I'm going to get flack for this but I feel for 95% of people this is basically the same as a 400-500 desktop they would get at best buy * from there perspective* . I plan to buy at least 3-4 , 1 one for my den's flat screen and a couple as gifts for my less tech savvy family members when I tell them they can check there email , face book status and watch some movies with out a ton of cables or a big box they may explode from excitement.
  • -8 Hide
    Anonymous , November 21, 2011 4:47 AM
    how will it get internet?
  • 15 Hide
    Novulux , November 21, 2011 4:52 AM
    ryumiakyohow will it get internet?


    Read : 802.11 b/g/n Wifi
    ?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 21, 2011 4:58 AM
    Great idea, but the $200 price point may be a non-starter. An entry-level Roku for $50 gives you Netflix and other Internet channels; the top-end Roku gets you Angry Birds for less than $200. The killer 'app' for the FXI device might be its the web browser, but an Asus Revo can be had off eBay for less than $200 (and comes with a much larger storage device) and its browser would be probably be more secure (easier to update). Of course, the Revo (or any other media PC) would consume more power than this ARM-based device.
  • 9 Hide
    tanjo , November 21, 2011 5:04 AM
    Cool A good way to revive those old(non-web) LCD/LED TVs.
  • 13 Hide
    archange , November 21, 2011 5:12 AM
    Quite nice. Something else occurs to me as well:

    Can this lead to upgradeable smartphones???

    Upgradeable and interchangeable smartphone modules FTW! Added bonus: pull it out and stick it into any TV or display.
  • 4 Hide
    FloKid , November 21, 2011 7:02 AM
    archangeQuite nice. Something else occurs to me as well:Can this lead to upgradeable smartphones???Upgradeable and interchangeable smartphone modules FTW! Added bonus: pull it out and stick it into any TV or display.


    Use a USB adapter : )
  • 7 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , November 21, 2011 7:06 AM
    Oh well. No Crysis...yet.
  • 1 Hide
    archange , November 21, 2011 7:20 AM
    FloKidUse a USB adapter : )


    Sure, why not, but that's what we already do. My vision does not require an adapter, though, especially that makers do not include anything extra, not even with flagship models... Not to mention that it's way cooler ;) 

    I mean, sure, my phone has Kies Air and Allshare, and they work fine over wifi, but these features anre by no means common, or prevalent.
  • 0 Hide
    ProDigit10 , November 21, 2011 7:46 AM
    don't like the USB part!
    I had hoped the device could be plugged into a USB HUB (like the raspberry), and connect a keyb-mouse to it!
  • 0 Hide
    alyoshka , November 21, 2011 8:17 AM
    Now that's a something to go gaga about. Imagine connecting them into one another or like on a USB hub , computing power might be close to making the most energy efficient super computer that would fit into a garage instead of a huge building with 5 MW of power consumption... eh?
  • 7 Hide
    nikorr , November 21, 2011 8:36 AM
    Loaded per square inch!
  • -5 Hide
    Anonymous , November 21, 2011 8:40 AM
    I don't really have a clue why people are amazed by this ;-)
    It's an Adroid device without display, other than being small there is nothing revolutionary about it from the technology point of view.

    For a product it could be a brilliant idea, and I'm sure there will be enough people who would love to have a super small android stick to plug into their TV. But the details on this is not even there, HDMI sure, but how about input devices? How do you plan to control that using your TV? ;-)

    Of-course the idea of using the host's peripherals work when you stick this to a laptop, this is again nothing new though.

    It's just another "set-up" box
  • 6 Hide
    alidan , November 21, 2011 8:53 AM
    iwakiI don't really have a clue why people are amazed by this ;-)It's an Adroid device without display, other than being small there is nothing revolutionary about it from the technology point of view. For a product it could be a brilliant idea, and I'm sure there will be enough people who would love to have a super small android stick to plug into their TV. But the details on this is not even there, HDMI sure, but how about input devices? How do you plan to control that using your TV? ;-) Of-course the idea of using the host's peripherals work when you stick this to a laptop, this is again nothing new though.It's just another "set-up" box

    Input comes from Bluetooth devices

    that being said, is this a android, that i can plug into my computer, and run apps off of it that are on android market? because if it is, i have a use for it.

    is hdmi powered? how would it get power in hdmi?

    will this stream 1080p off netflix? does it see the display resolution and we get a 1080p version or will it be its own resolution reguardless?

    can this see my network and stream video from my pc to the tv?

    these are the questions we should be asking.
  • 1 Hide
    EDVINASM , November 21, 2011 8:58 AM
    Third time I am hearing these USB stick PCs. First this lad with charity idea; later NVidia with their plans, now this. Great and all but when are we going to have it? Next year? Next year we might already have TVs with Google OS (check Sony Bravia and Google TV).
    I want it now, I want it functional and reliable. Next year is no good. It will be old news.
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , November 21, 2011 9:21 AM
    edvinasmThird time I am hearing these USB stick PCs. First this lad with charity idea; later NVidia with their plans, now this. Great and all but when are we going to have it? Next year? Next year we might already have TVs with Google OS (check Sony Bravia and Google TV).I want it now, I want it functional and reliable. Next year is no good. It will be old news.


    requireing the purchase of a new tv, a 200$ purchase, over a 600$+ new tv you dont need... not includeing if its marked up just because it has a buzz word like google tv in it.
  • 1 Hide
    EDVINASM , November 21, 2011 9:47 AM
    alidanrequireing the purchase of a new tv, a 200$ purchase, over a 600$+ new tv you dont need... not includeing if its marked up just because it has a buzz word like google tv in it.


    I agree with you 100%. It is good for those who already have TVs. Then again, $200 seems a bit steep. IMO.. I am in a process of getting a new TV and I will not do so until they will implement Cinema 3D glasses and make Google on it.
  • 1 Hide
    KelvinTy , November 21, 2011 10:04 AM
    USB2.0?! If it is possible, upgrade to USB3.0 for much much more performance (and hoping the price not to sky-rocket)
    P.S. Finally, someone good enough to come up with such nice product!
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